Human Rights & Individual Liberties
September 17th -The Guardian – Occupy Activists Abolish $3.85m in Corinthian Colleges Students’ Loan Debt
In the wake of Occupy Wall Street’s third anniversary, protesters gathered together in New York to raise awareness on the issue of student debt. In an effort to incite Americans borrowers to “unite and exert collective power”, organizers have started collecting donations from the public and they are calling on other groups to follow suit. For the first time this week, they have managed to buy and cancel nearly $4m worth of student loans, clearing the slate for 2,700 students at a Corinthian college. An encouraging first step, but a drop in the bucket in country where student debt has now surpassed $1tn. However, conquering it all is not impossible, as debt can often be bought at a discount. The Corinthian college obligations were actually sold at 3¢ for a $1, which gives organizers good hope about their capacity to purchase more and more loans in the future.
September 11th – The Economist – Rebranding Republicans in California
Polls say only 1 in 4 Californians know the name of the Republican candidate for Governor’s race. However, 41-years old Neel Kashkari may well become a national figure in the near future, as he is paving the way for a new Republican identity. Shrugging off traditional GOP credos, Kashkari is “a social moderate” who defends gay-marriage and abortion. “This summer, he marched in a gay-pride parade in San Diego, and he routinely speaks in black churches”, The Economist reports.
Although he is little likely to defeat incumbent Democratic Governor Jerry Brown, Kashkari will surely help Republicans regain influence among minorities and liberal electorate.
August 30th – Huffington Post – UN Condemns US Police Brutality, Calls For “Stand Your Ground Review”
Following the shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a policeman in Missouri, the UN racism watchdog urged the United States to halt the excessive use of force by police. As stated by the report of the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), “minorities – particularly African Americans – are victims of disparities”.
Far from being an isolated event, the Missouri shooting takes place two years after unarmed black youngster Trayvon Martin got shot to death by white police officer George Zimmerman in Florida. During his trial, the latter was found not guilty thanks to a “stand your ground” law, which allows for a rather permissive definition of self-defense. In place in 22 States, these laws are also under scrutiny by the UN, which calls on an immediate review by US authorities. .
Environment and Sustainable Development
September 22nd – New York Times – Taking a Call for Climate Change to the Streets
The first item on the long list of issues to be addressed at the United Nations General Assembly in New York this week is climate change. On Tuesday President Barack Obama will address a group of world leaders at the U.N. Climate Summit, a one-day meeting hosted by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and open to leaders of all 193 U.N. member states. This Sunday thousands (organisers said some 310,000 people) of demonstrators frustrated by international inaction on global warming joined a march going through the heart of Manhattan with a message of alarm for world leaders set to gather at the U.N. meeting.
September 19th – TechTimes – US Will Train 50,000 Veterans to Install Solar Panels
Unemployment and climate change are among the main preoccupations of the Obama administration. Luckily, Washington has found a way to deal with both, as it recently announced a new training program that will teach 50,000 veterans how to install solar panels. This is one in many announcements made by the White House, a few days ahead of the UN Climate Summit that will be held in New York. With this series of measures, officials expect to cut down on over 300m tons of carbon emissions by 2030, while saving billions by reducing households’ energy bills. In a joint effort, several companies like DuPont, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, or Target have agreed to limit their use of coolant, in order to reduce emissions of greenhouse gas.
September 18th – Recharge – US Solar Double Price in Germany
The cost of solar energy is going down incredibly fast, but a long road still lies ahead before the US can compete with German standards. Here are the conclusions of a report, released by the government-funded Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, about the evolution of the solar energy market in America. Although sun-generated power is still twice as expensive as in Germany, its cost has decreased by 12 to 15% last year. In terms of overall capacity, the US ended 2013 with just over 12GW, against 35GW for Germany, the world leader. However, it is important to recall that just a few years ago, in the mid-2000’s, America would only produce 1GW of solar energy a year. Figures released by the report help demonstrate the scope of the effort conceded by the country in the last decade.